ECO-Warrior founder James Pribram pens guest column: What happened to being good stewards of the beach?
What happened to being good stewards of the beach?
Being raised on Pearl/Agate Street Beach. I looked up to the older locals almost like brothers. They were a tough group of surfers – and they taught me to respect the beach and ocean. Which, in a nutshell, meant not only did you not litter, but heaven forbid you walked past a piece of litter without picking it up. These guys were willing to fight every day for the beach they loved. There was a pecking order to every set of locals on every beach. That was the culture I grew up in.
Part of being a local meant being a good steward of the beach. Caring for it. Respecting it. Loving the beach.
I would not consider the Agate Street Beach staircase renovation project being an example of good stewardship of the beach. This project was started nearly four months ago. On a good day, there are maybe two or three guys working on it for one or two days a week, and that’s being generous. There is a huge rusty ramp now descending down from the cliff and into the water at high tide.
Workers have dumped approximately 37 Lego cement blocks onto the beach, which have already toppled over twice. In their words, “[They] have been put there to keep the ocean out.”
Haven’t we learned by now that it is simple impossible to keep the ocean out?! With two major swells forecast for this week and tides nearly reaching into the six-foot range, we (the locals who know the power of the ocean and tides) are extremely worried that all of these construction tools will end up in the ocean and be lost out there for good. This project is a nightmare waiting to happen and quite honestly, it looks as if it has been abandoned.
In case anyone doesn’t remember, Laguna Beach is a Marine Reserve. It is an absolute no-take zone. No fishing, no nada. You are not even supposed to remove dead seaweed from its natural habitat – the beach. How in the world is such a mismanaged project happening like this in Laguna Beach? In a town that is supposed to be so environmentally conscious?
It’s one thing to be picking up metal stakes out of the tide pools and nails with pink ribbons off of the beach. But who is going to pick up the concrete blocks, and the rusty ramp if it goes into the ocean? What if someone is seriously injured or worse?
When I raised this issue, I wasn’t looking for a fight with the City or the Coastal Commission. In fact, the ECO-Warrior Foundation is a partner of the Coastal Commission and the Adopt-A-Beach program.
The first phone call I made was to the code enforcement officer at the Coastal Commission, who asked me to document everything and send it to him in an email. Which I did. He never replied back regarding the email and didn’t return subsequent phone calls. The same day I sent a similar email to the mayor. No reply. Then I called her and left a voicemail. She never returned my call. So then I called the city manager and left a voicemail. No returned call. However I did get a call from Henry Hovakkimian, Assistant Construction Manager, because of my call to the City Manager. The only City employee who actually took my call was the chief lifeguard. I went through the proper channels. Yet, no one bothered to get back to me to explain what was going on.
At least someone came and picked up the rusty drills that they left discarded there. But is this good stewardship of the beach? Not a chance.